The Project Self-Sufficiency administrators and Board of Directors paid homage to the agency’s hard-working staff by creating a drive-through celebration at the agency’s parking lot on Thursday. Employees at the non-profit organization were greeted with raucous applause as they arrived in their cars, receiving a container of Cliff’s Ice Cream from longtime Project Self-Sufficiency supporters Pete Freund and Melissa Lewandowski, a beautiful perennial from agency supporters and Cahill’s Farm owners Bob and Eileen Cahill, and a note of gratitude from Executive Director Deborah Berry-Toon. The parade of cars was serenaded by violinist Susan Mittelstadt.
The timing was serendipitous according to Berry-Toon. “The Project Self-Sufficiency staff has been incredible during this public health crisis. Our daycare and preschool teachers, along with our New Jersey Youth Corps staff, have been moving forward with classes online. Our nurses and home visitors have been keeping up their scheduled visits with their clients by using telehealth and video outreach. Our Career Center staff has continued the Higher Opportunities for Women coursework via Zoom,” she remarked. “At the same time, we have been able to launch The Food Project: Nourishing Our Neighbors and we successfully converted our annual Taste of Talent to a direct mail fundraising campaign. We are tremendously grateful to the community for their continued support.”
Typically, Project Self-Sufficiency serves thousands of clients each month at its Newton campus or in the privacy of their participants’ homes in the New Jersey counties of Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon. With the advent of the current public health crisis, the agency’s more than 70 employees quickly adapted to serving these individuals and families remotely. Video chat platforms have been used for large group gatherings, like the monthly Mommy Parties for home visitation clients, as well as smaller group instruction for the Little Sprouts Early Learning Center preschool classes and the New Jersey Youth Corps high school diploma equivalency program. Project Self-Sufficiency’s Central Intake, which fields calls from Sussex and Warren County residents in need of medical, educational and social services, has operated seamlessly since the onset of the public health crisis. Meanwhile, visits to the agency’s food pantry have soared in recent weeks.
“We wanted to show how proud we are of the overwhelming dedication of the Project Self-Sufficiency staff to serving the area’s neediest families at a time when their own lives may have been disrupted by school closures, and the furloughs of their own family members,” added Berry-Toon. “This is a beautiful way to show our gratitude and kick off the Mother’s Day weekend.”
Project Self-Sufficiency is accepting food and monetary donations, Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Those who need assistance or who want to drop off a donation are encouraged to call the agency at 973-940-3500 prior to visiting the campus at 127 Mill Street in Newton. To make a donation, or to find out more about the programs and services offered by Project Self-Sufficiency, visit www.projectselfsufficiency.org.